Suicide and the Bahá'í Faith
In view of the recent discussion by the media on the attitude of the Bahá’í Faith to suicide (e.g. Suicide is Always a Tragedy
in The Guardian,
7/27/2003), the following should be considered:
- The act of suicide is strongly condemned in the Bahá'í teachings, and alongside
the other world religions, it is "forbidden". However, Bahá'ís do not
adopt a condemnatory attitude toward those who commit suicide.
- Such an act does not mean that the person “has ceased to be a Bahá’í”
or lose their entitlement to a Bahá’í funeral and memorial
- The Bahá’í teachings on suicide need to be understood
in the context of beliefs on the purpose of life and the afterlife. For Bahá’ís,
the purpose of life is to develop one’s spiritual capacity and, in so doing,
contribute to “an ever-advancing civilization”. Bahá’ís
believe in an afterlife, of which little is known. It is thought to be a spiritual
existence, and those that die retain their individuality in the afterlife and
potentially continue to develop spiritually.
- Bahá’ís believe that the Ultimate Reality, what some
religions call God, is omniscient and merciful, and will deal with every soul
justly. Bahá’ís have no knowledge of the nature by which the
Ultimate Reality will deal with individuals: “The manner in which the Supreme
Being, in His Justice as well as in His Mercy, will deal with every individual
soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane”. In some cases, the
Bahá’í teachings indicate that God will be merciful and forgiving.
For example, in response to an early Bahá’í who committed
suicide, the Bahá’í writings stated: “He will be immersed
in the ocean of pardon and forgiveness and will become the recipient of bounty
- Letters of behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 29 March 1945 cited in Lights of Guidance.
- Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, page 200-1.
- See also bahai9.com/wiki/Suicide and bahai9.com/wiki/David_Kelly.